Soyizwapi to captain Blitzboks for 2019/2020 season
The former World Player of the Year will lead a dynamic Blitzboks team at the Dubai Sevens tournament.
JOHANNESBURG - Siviwe Soyizwapi will lead a vastly experienced Springboks Sevens squad featuring a number of returning veterans at the Dubai Sevens tournament next weekend as the 2019/2020 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series kicks off.
The winger, who will run out in his 29th tournament for the Blitzboks, has been named captain for the new season by Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell.
Former World Player of the Year, Seabelo Senatla, World Player of the Year nominee Rosko Specman and current SA Rugby Sevens Player of the Year, Dylan Sage, will return to the Blitzboks alongside Ruhan Nel, who will don national colours for the first time in a year after he toured with the Springboks to Europe in November 2018.
The experience of those players will be supplemented by a number of young and exciting players in the form of second-year Blitzbok, JC Pretorius and Kurt-Lee Arendse, who will take the field in Blitzbok colours for the first time in Dubai.
Ryan Oosthuizen, Chris Dry, Zain Davids, Selvyn Davids and Justin Geduld will again form the core of the team, with the latter nearing the 1,000 points mark in the World Series.
Powell said selection was tough, especially as their preparations are well on track.
“I think we are better prepared compared to the same time last year. We had warm-up tournaments in Germany, Kenya and England and everyone had a good run in at least one of those. Selection was tough, as most of the regulars are available for the opening tournament”, he said.
Powell will also be hoping for a better start to their campaign than they had last year, where they finished in 12th place.
“We had a poor start in Dubai last year and it took us a while to recover from that. We can’t promise anything this time around, but I am pretty sure the effort will be there and if that is the case, we will be very competitive”, he said.
Soyizwapi took over the captaincy for the last four tournaments last season after Philip Snyman got injured.
The 26-year-old said he was up for the challenge.
“We have a number of experienced players in the squad, which makes my job much easier. The leadership group in the team is also settled and that helps a lot. We have prepared well and worked hard to be ready for this. The first tournament is normally one of the toughest out there and everybody is still fresh and eager to make their mark, so every match is a real battle”, he said.
South Africa face England, Spain and Kenya in Pool D. Defending Series champions, Fiji will face France, Argentina and Japan in pool A. In pool B USA, Australia, Scotland and newcomers Ireland will battle it out. New Zealand, Samoa, Canada and Wales are in pool C.
The Blitzbok squad for the Dubai 7s:
- Chris Dry
- Ryan Oosthuizen
- Dylan Sage
- Zain Davids
- JC Pretorius
- Siviwe Soyizwapi (captain)
- Selvyn Davids
- Rosko Specman
- Justin Geduld
- Kurt-Lee Arendse
- Seabelo Senatla
- Ruhan Nel
- Christi Grobbelaar